Get relief naturally from common illnesses like colds, flu, sore throats and sinuses, allergies, digestive discomfort and more with these over the counter natural remedies! Learn the dangers of conventional drugs and medicine and get recommendations for healthier brands you can count on to feel better when you're sick.
This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
What's your go-to move when you're feeling under the weather and experience things like aches and pains, coughs and colds, fever, allergies, skin disorders, heartburn and other digestive problems?
Do you wait it out, go to the doctor, try concocting your own natural remedies, or pop an over the counter (O.T.C.) drug?
If you lean towards O.T.C. drugs, you're not alone. In fact, four out of five American adults commonly take O.T.C. medications. (source)
I know in my family, at the first sign of anything, the answer is usually to pop a pill–got a headache, take Ibuprofen; having some heartburn, pop a Tums; got a fever and chills, acetaminophen to the rescue.
In some ways, I can't blame them. The are more than 300,000 O.T.C. drug products on the market, and more than 100 ingredients, indications or dosage strengths have transitioned from prescription to O.T.C. status since 1975. (source)
While this is convenient and less expensive than going to the doctor, O.T.C. medications have some serious side effects and some downright disgusting ingredients added (it's honestly shocking these harmful toxins are allowed into medicine!).
It's like the very thing that is supposed to make us feel better is actually full of harmful ingredients that can destroy our health. Irony much?
Did you know…
- Overdoses of acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol and many of its competitors–are responsible for more than 30,000 hospitalizations annually, and 150 deaths each year in the U.S?
- In excessive amounts, acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage?
- When NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen) are taken too long, they can pose dangers including bleeding ulcers, kidney or liver damage and an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke?
- Pseudoephedrine–the active ingredient in many cold medicines–is a stimulant that is often intentionally abused, as it causes hallucinations or an intense “body high”? It can also cause irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, dizziness and seizures.
- Through overmedicating, you can disrupt your balance of good bacteria in your microbiome, leading to all kinds of symptoms and illnesses?
- Most drugs contain an array of binders, coatings or fillers, or even artificial colors/dyes, flavors and sweeteners as ‘inactive ingredients'? Why do we care what color our medicine is, seriously?! I'm always shocked by OTC drugs meant for adults that are colored and flavored articifically. It's medicine, not candy, not a treat. Geez!
- Most OTC drugs also contain common allergens, including soy, dairy, gluten and sugar.
- It can actually take longer to recover from illness when you medicate your fever. Fevers are our bodies natural ways of fighting off a virus and although they feel horrible, you'll feel better faster if you let your fever do its job.
None of that even accounts for how regular O.T.C. drug use can also change the brain’s chemistry over time, building a tolerance to the drugs, where you need more of the substance to get the previous effects. This can cause addiction and, like any drug, users experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using.
Yikes! Okay, so where does that leave us?
With natural remedies, of course!
Natural Remedies for Common Illnesses
The good news here is that you don't even have to concoct your own remedy, but rather you can still enjoy the convenience of O.T.C. yet NATURAL treatments that actually work to heal the root cause, rather than just masking your symptoms.
Humans have been using herbal medicines for thousands of years. As we say here at R+R, food truly is medicine! Plants and herbs are a much safer means of treatment than conventional medications, as you're providing your body with safe and clean ingredients that your body miraculously knows how to work with and use.
Next time you start noticing symptoms of common illnesses, reach instead for one of the savvy swap recommendations below!
All of these O.T.C. natural remedies are available at Sprouts Farmers Market, so you can scoop them up while you're grocery shopping and have them at the ready as we embark on cold and flu season.
To make your seasonal wellness even easier, Sprouts will be featuring some of the brands below on aisle end caps starting in October–so you can be sure not to miss them!
Sprouts also offers affordable prices, so you don’t have to worry about spending extra money to go natural. To potentially save even more, I also recommend you download their new app where you can add promo codes and digital coupons to your account and then simply scan at checkout to save. Saving extra money is always a great thing, right?!
If you’re looking for the closest location, go to the store locator to find a Sprouts near you.
NATURAL REMEDIES: SORE THROAT
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat Tea: This delicious tea is full of magical herbs like slippery elm (a demulcent that restores the natural mucus coating on irritated tissues), licorice root (helps the body produce healthy mucus), and marshmallow root (a mucus-like substance that coats and soothes a sore throat). Altogether, this combo feels like heaven on a sore throat!
- Nature's Way Sambucus Organic Zinc Lozenges: Toss the artificial food coloring and soy in Halls lozenges and opt for these organic lozenges that work so much better! Black elderberry, potent antioxidants that can help enhance the immune response by stimulating the production of immune cells, combined with Vitamin C (an antihistamine that helps fight respiratory infections) is a powerhouse for fighting sore throats. Even better? When taken within 24 hours of the first runny nose or sore throat, zinc can cut colds short by an average of a day or more and sharply reduce the severity of symptoms (source). And no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors makes these lozenges a safe bet.
- Pacific Resources International Lozenges: These soothing Manuka honey and lemon lozenges are great for “tackling the tickle” and are corn syrup free. In fact, one study found that honey was even more effective at taming nighttime coughs than common cough suppressants, plus it's an anti-viral.
- Boiron ThroatCalm: Hoarse? Dry? Sore? Whatever your throat pains, try these fast-acting tablets that dissolve under your tongue. Some key ingredients include wolf's bane which relieves hoarseness, deadly nightshade (prepared in a way to remove its toxicity) which soothes red and sore throats, and white bryony which helps with intense thirst and overall sore throat.
NATURAL REMEDIES: FLU
- Nature's Way Sambucus Flu Care: Swap Dayquil or Nyquil for this non-drowsy homeopathic remedy featuring the amazing elderberry again, naturally alleviating fever, cough, congestion and sore throat.
- Boiron Oscillococcinum: For body aches, headaches, fever, chills and fatigue, try Oscillococcinum. Shown in clinical studies to help reduce both the duration and the severity of flu-like symptoms without interacting with other medications, this is a great swap for common O.T.C.s like aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Tylenol, Excedrin or Motrin.
- Natural Factors Tranquil Sleep: Feeling unwell and can't sleep? Try this fast-acting, harmonious formula with natural ingredients like 5-HTP (an amino acid used by the human body to make serotonin), L-Theanine (an amino acid that helps with relaxation, focus, and sleep), and Melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and daily body rhythms.
- Genexa Sleepology: Sensitive to melatonin? This organic, melatonin-free, homeopathic sleep aid supports insomnia, sleeplessness or restless sleep with alternative ingredients like alfalfa for restless sleep, oat straw for nervousness and exhaustion, and chamomile for inability to fall asleep.
NATURAL REMEDIES: COUGH + COLD
- Genexa Cold Crush: Ditch the Robitussin for the world’s first certified organic and non-GMO homeopathic cold and cough medicine! These chewable tablets alleviate symptoms like chest congestion, nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, sore throat, and sneezing with active ingredients like monkshood (helps with high sudden fever), red onion (supports allergic or viral runny nose) and white bryony (to improve muscle and joint pain). Also comes in children's version for kids 3 years+ of age.
- XLEAR Max Sinus Spray with Capsicum + Xylitol: Better than saline alone, this nasal spray has the added benefits of Capsicum Annuum–an extract sourced from non-GMO pepper plants for its decongestant and anti-allergy properties–and natural aloe to provide relief from nasal congestion and sinus pressure due to colds, flu, allergies, pollen and post-nasal drip. Xylitol is moisturizing and reduces sinus tissue swelling without steroids.
- Boiron Sinusalia: For congestion and pain, sinus pressure and headaches, swap Sudafed for this non-drowsy, quick-dissolve tablet. Homeopathic ingredients like deadly nightshade (prepared in a way to remove its toxicity), bloodroot and woodland pinkroot are all known for relieving sinus pain and stuffy nose.
- Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care Tea: Warm and comforting at the most needed of times, this soothing tea is minty, slightly sweet and spicy with elderflower, peppermint leaf, rose hips, cinnamon, ginger, clove, licorice root and other herbs.
- ZAND Zumka Cough and Cold Syrup: Made with Black Elderberry extract and Umckaloabo (a natural remedy for upper respiratory infections), this is safe for the whole family (over 2 years old). Studies show elderberry has a significant effect on cold duration and cold associated symptoms, while Zumka provides fast, natural relief for cough, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and throat pain.
NATURAL REMEDIES: ALLERGIES
- Wishgarden Herbs Kick Ass Allergy Seasonal Rescue: Made from wildcrafted, organic and culinary-grade herbs, Wishgarden Herbs seasonal rescue helps bring your body back into balance, naturally, with its bioavailable extracts from yerba santa, nettle, echinacea and orange peel. These ingredients help support a healthy respiratory response, are non-stimulating and non-sedating.
- Boiron Sabadil: A non-drowsy formula for itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose and itchy throat. Made from plants like red onion to alleviate sneezing spasms and burning runny nose, honeybee to decrease nasal congestion, and golden shower, which has been shown to have a positive effect on hay fever (source). Swap this for Benadryl for a safer alternative!
- Genexa Allergy-D: Certified organic, these chewable tablets address both indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms. Looking for a kid-friendly solution? Try their organic Allergy-D for kids. Some of the active ingredients include red onion for sneezing and runny nose, woody nightshade for cough and feathershank for allergy symptoms.
- Gaia Herbs Turmeric Supreme Allergy: Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, promotes healthy inflammatory response, while Quercetin supports respiratory function.
NATURAL REMEDIES: IMMUNE SUPPORT
- Nature’s Answer Sambucus: Perfect for supporting your immune system all year long, this formula utilizes elderberry (which has two times the antioxidants of blueberries and more antioxidants than blackberries, cranberries and goji berries), plus it's preservative-, alcohol-, and artificial sweetener-free.
- ZAND Insure Immune Support: This herbal liquid echinacea supplement also features chamomile, ginger and valerian to ensure your immune system stays healthy. Comes in liquid, capsules and a line for kids.
- Ricola Honey Herbal Immunity Drops: These naturally soothing, GMO-free drops help fight fatigue with ginseng (known to boost energy, reduce stress and promote relaxation), plus essential Vitamins like C, B6 & B12.
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Plus Tea: Designed to promote immune function, this elderberry tea is sweet and earthy and helps fight inflammation.
- Natural Path Silver Wings Colloidal Silver: Used for healing the body from colds, sinus symptoms, superbugs, skin health and more, this pharmaceutical grade ancient remedy is like a jack of all trades. Colloidal Silver kills pathogens by suffocating their oxygen metabolizing enzyme, and then our immune, lymphatic and elimination systems take over to clear out these bad guys from our bodies.
NATURAL REMEDIES: INDIGESTION
- Enzymedica Digest: Enzyme deficiencies can lead to a variety of digestive discomforts, including occasional gas, bloating, irregularity and indigestion. A complete enzyme formula will make a huge impact for people with IBS and Leaky Gut; take with meals to help your body break down food, absorb nutrients and convert food to energy.
- Country Life Acid Rescue: Help soothe discomfort from heartburn and indigestion by neutralizing stomach acids with calcium carbonate and magnesium citrate (plus these tablets are talc- and sugar-free)! A great alternative to toxic Tums.
- American Health Original Papaya Enzyme Roll: A chewable after meal supplement to help support and maintain daily digestive health. Papayas contain an enzyme called papain that aid in digestion, especially in the pancreas, and work wonders for breaking down meat and other protein. Plus, papaya is high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity. I took these near daily while I was pregnant to prevent heartburn and they worked like gangbusters!
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move Tea: A great alternative to traditional laxatives, this tea supports relief from occasional constipation and generally produces a bowel movement within 6-12 hours. Made from fennel, coriander and ginger to reduce the potential for unpleasant feelings like cramping.
NATURAL REMEDIES: BABIES
- Boiron Camilia Teething Relief: Preservative-free relief for teething, including painful gums and irritability. Also helps in relieving minor digestive disorders sometimes associated with teething. Free from benzocaine, alcohol, flavors, dyes, lactose, sugar and artificial sweeteners, recommended for babies one month and up.
- Boiron Cocyntal Colic Relief: Designed to help your baby feel better from colic-related symptoms like gas pain, cramping and irritability. How? With wood charcoal (helps with abdominal bloating with gas), bitter cucumber (for constipation, liver, and gallbladder ailments) and copper (for leg and muscle cramps).
NATURAL REMEDIES: FIRST AID
- Essential Oxygen Hydrogen Peroxide: If you use hydrogen peroxide in your home, this is THE brand to buy! It’s food grade, with none of the toxic stabilizers found in conventional brown bottle varieties.
- All Terrain Fabric Bandages: Latex-free bandages with non-stick absorbent pads to help avoid irritating sensitive skin–a must for any first-aid kit!
- All Terrain Antibiotic Gel: Along with their fabric bandages, All Terrain has a natural Antibiotic Gel that not only helps prevent infections in minor cuts, scrapes & burns, but has allantoin to prevent and temporarily relieve chafed, chapped, and cracked skin. The perfect alternative to Neosporin.
NATURAL REMEDIES: OTHER
- Genexa Jet Lag Rx: I couldn't resist adding this in because, really, how cool is this organic jet lag support to help address dreaded jet lag feelings like fatigue, mood changes, sleeplessness, early waking, loss of appetite, nausea and sluggishness?! Chew two tablets at takeoff, two every four hours and then two after landing. Bon voyage!
- Terry Naturally Curamin Headache Relief: Say goodbye to aspirin, Tylenol and Advil. Instead, turn to this clinically studied curcumin remedy (the active ingredient in turmeric responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties) for a safe and effective treatment for headaches and joint pain. Additional ingredients include magnesium to support healthy neurotransmitter activity in the brain and Vitamin B6 for serotonin production and relaxation.
Over to you! What are your favorite over the counter natural remedies? Share in the comments!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.